Dr. Tiller’s Clinic Will Remain Closed

Oh god. This twists both my heart and my stomach up into tight, hard knots.

The family of slain abortion provider George Tiller said Tuesday that his Wichita clinic will be “permanently closed,” effective immediately.

In a statement released by Tiller’s attorneys, his family said it is ceasing operation of Women’s Health Care Services Inc. and any involvement by family members in any other similar clinic.

“We are proud of the service and courage shown by our husband and father and know that women’s health care needs have been met because of his dedication and service,” the family said.

This is awful. Just awful. I feel quite literally ill and nauseous at the moment.

I can’t blame Dr. Tiller’s family. I don’t blame his family. I understand that they have risked, and lost, far more than enough. No one could have ever blamed Dr. Tiller if he had decided, after the years of harassment and threats on his life, to give up practicing at his clinic. And so we certainly can’t blame his family now for shutting the clinic doors, once those threats were actually carried out. And I also hear what Dr. Hern, who provides the same type of late abortions that Dr. Tiller did, is saying. Who would want to work there? We can talk about principle all day long, but when it comes down to it — a man was murdered because he worked there. How many of us would be willing to take is place? Exceedingly few.

But that doesn’t change the loss, and that loss is huge. The nation has now not only lost one of its bravest, most compassionate abortion providers. It has also lost one of only three clinics that performed life-saving and therapeutic abortions this late. (Please note: dozens of clinics perform abortions that would be considered “late.” Dr. Tiller’s, however, was one of only three that provided abortions as late as they did.)

Women traveled across the nation, often because they had nowhere else to go. Now, women in Kansas who need later abortions will be forced to travel, too. And we don’t know how many women will go without care as a result. We don’t know how many lives will be risked. We don’t know how many women will be forced to carry to term fetuses that will only die painfully at birth. We don’t know, but even one is much too high.

But hey, let us think of those anti-choice protesters, hmm?

Anti-choicers did this. And they can talk all day long about how they “don’t support violence” (my ass), but this is exactly what they wanted. It is exactly what they always wanted. Randall Terry, heartless, misogynistic asshole extraordinaire, says as much himself:

Randall Terry, the founder of the original Operation Rescue group, responded to news that Tiller’s clinic would remain closed with, “Good riddance.” He said history would remember Tiller’s clinic as it remembers Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps.

“What set him apart is that he killed late-term babies,” Terry said. “If his replacement was going to continue to kill late-term children, the protests would continue, the investigations would continue, the indictments would continue.”

Current Operation Rescue president Troy Newman, who had condemned Tiller’s killing as vigilantism, called the announcement “a bittersweet moment.”

Beautiful, isn’t it? This is your “non-violent” “pro-life” movement right here.

I am angry. I am furious at what these people will go to in order to show women that they are nothing more than baby incubators, even if those women must die in that enforced role. And I am enraged that those who have such extreme disregard for life are still allowed the privilege of the label “pro-life” by the vast majority of our society.

Women will have to pay more for care. Many women may go without care. And those who support the actions of Dr. Tiller’s assassin will also see that extreme violence works. Harassment couldn’t shut Dr. Tiller’s clinic down. Intimidation couldn’t shut it down. Threats couldn’t shut it down. Bombings, vandalism, and shooting Dr. Tiller couldn’t shut his clinic down. But murdering him? That’s what it took. And that’s how they got what they wanted.

I don’t know what to say to that, except that the thought leaves me shaking and thinking to myself: god help us all.

cross-posted at the Curvature

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32 comments for “Dr. Tiller’s Clinic Will Remain Closed

  1. June 9, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Randall Terry should be in jail for the rest of his life, just like every other anti-choice activist out there.

    Also, Operation Rescue should be slapped with a $500 billion (with a B) penalty by the Tillers for terrorism and be put on the FBI’s domestic terrorist organization list.

  2. June 9, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    You know, it’s funny (not ha-ha funny) but the more I’ve thought about this issue since Dr. Tiller’s assassination, the more it seems to me that the type of abortions he provided are the most “defensible” (not that any needs to be defensible) when you examine the real life situations and not the right-wing propaganda (which, if these people could look beyond propaganda that would be 90 percent of the solution, I guess).

    See, for instance, all the stories in this previous thread.

    So yes, this twists my stomach in knots, too.

  3. June 9, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    the only thing that’s made me feel better during this whole nightmare was donating to Medical Students for Choice. i received a note from them thanking me for my donation in a hand-addressed envelope. i thought of all the people helping the organization with their money or their time and it gave me a glimmer of hope that there are a lot of people who are determined to see this work continued.

    that said, i was very disheartened to see that the clinic would close. these do feel like very dark times.

  4. June 9, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    he type of abortions he provided are the most “defensible”

    the kind that even ross douhat thinks are acceptable! :)

  5. TeriSaw
    June 9, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    I am so heartsick for his family. To be terrorized for so long, terrorized by the loss of a loved one, terrorized into closing the clinic… this whole situation is just appalling. I alternately want to cry and hurl obscenities.

  6. William
    June 9, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    I hate how this sort of news makes me feel, I hate the rage, I hate the hate, I hate that I’m not sure I would be able to empathize with terry if his church burned or he was shot. I hate feeling contaminated by the violence. I hate that thousands of women a year will have that much more trouble making it through. Right now, I hate feeling.

  7. June 9, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    This whole tragedy with Dr. Tiller makes me sick. I am raising a daughter in a world that kills doctors that provide services targeted specifically for her. What the hell am I supposed to tell her when some right wing nutter shoves their misogynic beliefs down her throat? In all honesty I’m pre-med school and have been wavering between going in to pediatrics or OB/GYN. I think I may have to choose being an OB/GYN and preform these necessary and heartbreaking abortions for women who deserve the right to make health care decisions about their own body. Dr. Tiller was a hero, a true blue American hero who persevered even under the worst prosecution. He deserves to be treated as such.

  8. kim
    June 9, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    “I hate that I’m not sure I would be able to empathize with terry if his church burned or he was shot.”

    Well said. I live fairly close to Wichita and am surrounded by people who align themselves with the “pro-life” movement, and my survival technique has always been to temper my anger at their beliefs, to swallow my rage. I don’t know anymore if I can do that.

  9. June 9, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    this is certainly devastating, especially because the “pro-life” side thinks they’ve won something…

  10. Cameron H. Russell
    June 9, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    I can’t believe I’m saying this, I can’t believe I’m using this quote, or invoking this sentiment.

    Don’t let the terrorists win.

  11. libdevil
    June 9, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    The terrorists have been winning for a long time. 3 clinics did this sort of work. 3. Think about that for a second. You don’t think they’ve won? When they can bomb, and threaten, and shoot doctors and they force all but 3 clinics to bow down to avoid the worst of the violence, they’ve already won. Doctors aren’t, generally speaking, condemning women to suffering and death out of principle, they’re doing it because they’re afraid to provide their patients with needed medical care because in doing so they risk being assassinated by Operation Rescue’s goon squads or persecuted by the Phil Klines of the world. They’ve won.

  12. TragedyOnThePlains
    June 9, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    The news of Dr. Tiller’s murder breaks my heart. He has given so many women a safe and caring place to make the most difficult choice any woman will ever have to make. My heart goes out to his family. I hope they know what a brave man and doctor Kansas has lost and that he will be missed.

    In a pro-choice world, both pro-life and pro-choice can exist, either group acting on their own behalf; but this act is absolutely terrorism. With Dr. Tiller’s murderer’s guilty sentencing, I hope for a shameful confession when he realizes that he has killed a man who helped women; people he clearly does not value nearly as much as his arcane dogma. How could this fundamental terrorist ever regard himself as a “Man-of-God?” Great shame and guilt is on the hands of this murder’s supporters.

  13. devastated
    June 9, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    I am so upset by all of this. I am just so saddened by Dr. Tiller’s death and the violence that caused it. I’m so sad for all of those women who are desperate for the services at the Women’s Health Care Services who now need to find another answer. It makes me so sick that we live in a world where people can be so ignorant and arrogant and who feel entitled to instigate and create such malicious acts.

  14. Jen
    June 9, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    It wasn’t just late term abortions that Dr. Tiller provided. He also provided first trimester & early 2nd trimester abortion services.
    He was the only – the ONLY – abortion provider between Denver and Kansas City.

    There are now TWO clinics that provide abortions in Kansas, and both are in the KC metro area. In some parts of Kansas, that’s at least a 5 hour drive, one way. Add to that KS’s 24 hour waiting period related to the “informed consent” legislation, and there’s a huge gap in access for a whole lot of Kansas women who need even early term services.

    I absolutely understand the Tiller family’s decision. They’ve been through hell, they just lost a father and husband, and they more than deserve a break from all of this. They don’t have a responsibility to anyone or anything except their own family’s best interests.
    I worry, though, about all those women in Kansas who need services. Who’s going to step up? Who would want to step into that role when someone was just killed for providing legal medical services?

  15. June 9, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Jen — did he provide first trimester abortions? I’m just curious, because he didn’t advertise that fact on his website. Only elective second trimester abortions and therapeutic second and third trimester abortions. I was under the impression that there was a nearby Planned Parenthood abortion clinic that did first trimesters.

    Of course I could be wrong, which is why I’m asking.

  16. Jen
    June 9, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    My understanding is that his clinic did offer first tri abortions. He had other doctors that rotated through, and Dr. Tiller was the provider for the later term procedures. I’m fairly sure the other doctors provided the earlier ABs. At the KC vigil, a couple of women spoke out as people who had been to Dr. Tiller’s clinic for first trimester abortions. Both had been more than ten years ago, but I think he continued to provide abortion services for women early in their terms.

    The PP clinic in Wichita only provides basic repro health services (testing, PAPs, etc) and family planning services, not abortion services. One of the two abortion providers in the KC metro area is a PP clinic, the other is a private one.

    PPKM (Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri) released a press statement today including this sentence about the Wichita clinic, which has been re-posted on lots of local Twitter accounts: “Planned Parenthood will not speak publicly on plans, if any, to provide comprehensive women’s health care in Wichita.”

  17. June 9, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Thanks for the info, Jen. Clearly I was wrong about PP! Which is extraordinarily unfortunate. And makes the closing of Women’s Health Care Services all that more tragic. Which I didn’t think was really possible before.

  18. preying mantis
    June 10, 2009 at 12:04 am

    “the more I’ve thought about this issue since Dr. Tiller’s assassination, the more it seems to me that the type of abortions he provided are the most “defensible””

    The thing of it is that the women who are going to be hurt by losing one of the last few specialists of Dr. Tiller’s stripe are rare. Pro-lifers can target those providers and still feel confident that they’re not harassing or murdering anyone whose services they’ll ever want to seek out.

    On top of that, you have the idea that sacrificing the women who need someone like Dr. Tiller on the altar of the fetus is pretty much literally just that. The vast majority of the pregnancies he terminated were not ever going to result in viable children. The only point of them was to lessen the suffering of the mother/parents. He was shot for making it possible for women to avoid the full measure of trauma inflicted by a wanted pregnancy gone terribly wrong. The “you don’t matter” message doesn’t get much more visceral than making someone suffer through a dangerous induced labor or extra months of a doomed pregnancy just because you can.

  19. kaninchen
    June 10, 2009 at 7:56 am

    I heard this on the radio last night, and I cannot blame the Tillers for this decision. What else do you do when terrorists come after you and the law offers no protection? The guy who murdered Dr. Tiller was quoted as having said he won. Yeah, he won, the forced-birthers won, and women in America are that much less free now.

  20. Overkill
    June 10, 2009 at 8:13 am

    *peddles backward* “alright, where are the box of coathangers?”

  21. June 10, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Exactly, libdevil. I totally understand Dr. Tiller’s family’s decision not to continue with the clinic — I doubt I would’ve been half as courageous for half as long. But because of the total inaction of our government, now pro-lifers will be motivated to kill the rest of the late-term abortion providers in this country because they’ve learned that it works. And because our fucking federal government, even without Bush, isn’t willing to do anything about these home-grown terrorists. The open war against women just got even more open, as if that were possible.

  22. GumbyAnne
    June 10, 2009 at 9:17 am

    canzibfeminist, you’d be my hero if you went into this type of practice.

  23. Blue Jean
    June 10, 2009 at 10:17 am

    What GumbyAnne said, canzibfeminist. I wish I had the knowledge and skill set to be a doctor myself, so I could take over Dr. Tiller’s work. But if someone who can be a doctor could step in, s/he would be my hero.

  24. 10G
    June 10, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Kaninchen, I understand what you’re saying, but please don’t lose hope. The chickenshit loser Randall Terry and his pack of WPOS thugs have won THIS battle. They have NOT won the war.

  25. June 10, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    The problem is that our society and health care system does everything in its power to dissuade people from becoming abortion doctors. We need to fix this and the culture surrounding abortion so that access remains open.

    This is no time for Common Ground….


  26. AbBa
    June 10, 2009 at 7:11 pm
  27. Alexis
    June 10, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    This story gives a glimmer of hope in this hopeless situation:

  28. Shiny Mae
    June 10, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    @ Alexis

    I am heartened to read that, Alexis. I had been hoping this would happen.

  29. Zachary
    June 10, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    From the story Alexis linked:

    Operation Rescue president Troy Newman said his group, which tried for years to put Tiller’s clinic out of business, has discussed the idea of buying the tan, windowless building in east Wichita.

    “I would love to make an offer on that abortion clinic, and that’s some of the discussion that we’re having,” Newman said Tuesday.

    I want to come up with some sort of intelligent commentary, but all I can say is: what a fucking creep.

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